More than 204,000 New Mexicans live with type 2 diabetes, with the rate of those with the disease climbing by 13 percent every year. Given that the current estimated total costs due to diabetes in the United States exceed $240 billion, it is imperative that those health care dollars are spent effectively. Fortunately, the diabetes epidemic has been met with the development of numerous new medications,   however, despite the availability of so many medications available to treat diabetes, doctors have little information to guide them to the best option.

Tuesday, March 24 is the American Diabetes Association® Alert Day. The UNM Health Sciences Center seeks volunteers for the first long-term National Institutes of Health trial to compare treatments of type 2 diabetes. The GRADE Study is the first study that hopes to provide this critical information.

GRADE, which stands for Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study, sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, is the first clinical research study designed to find out which of four FDA-approved diabetes medications, when combined with metformin (Glucophage®), is most effective in treating type 2 diabetes. Metformin is widely accepted as the first medication that is used to treat type 2 diabetes; however, most patients eventually require an additional medication to manage the disease.  The results of GRADE will help doctors guide the management of individuals with type 2 diabetes in the future.

The GRADE Study is enrolling 5,000 people with type 2 diabetes at nearly 50 medical centers in the United States including the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

“The GRADE study is the first comparative effectiveness study which will look directly at four of the major treatments for diabetes, compare them and try to determine which one or ones are the best for treating type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. David S. Schade, MD, chief of endocrinology at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

People with type 2 diabetes may be eligible to join the GRADE Study if they:

  • Have had type 2 diabetes for less than 10 years
  • Are over 30 years old
    • If American Indian, over 20 years old
  • Only take metformin (Glucophage®) for their diabetes
  • Are willing to take a second diabetes medication
  • Are willing to make four office visits per year for the next 4 to 6 years

Takiyah Allen has been part of the GRADE Study at UNM for over a year. “My mom’s side of the family is full of individuals with diabetes.  My mom’s diabetes is what scared me the most. Her diabetes is what triggered me to learn more about diabetes. The GRADE Study has helped me learn more about my diabetes and get it under control.” 

Jose Marquez said, “The GRADE study helped educate me about what diet and exercise can do for you and how taking a second medication - in addition to metformin - is a benefit that helped me take control of my diabetes.”    

Participants in the GRADE study will receive:

  • Close follow-up from an expert diabetes care team at no cost
  • Diabetes medications and supplies provided at no cost
  • Diabetes care visits and lab tests at no cost
  • Diabetes education at no cost

“The GRADE study is a long-term study, which is necessary for a long-term disease like diabetes. It’s going to go for as long as seven years, and we hope to see over that period of time which diabetes treatment is best for the population as a whole, as well as which one drug or combination of drugs may be best for specific individuals, said Dr. David M. Nathan, chair of the GRADE Study, and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Unit and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The GRADE Study is currently enrolling eligible participants here in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico.  Anyone interested in learning more can call 505-272-5454 or visit  for more information.

The UNM Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism is an academically oriented division dedicated to excellence in patient care and research in endocrinology, that trains fellows, residents and medical students in the area of adult endocrinology and metabolism. David S. Schade, MD, principal investigator of the GRADE study at UNM, has been researching diabetes for more than 40 years.